Dear John, I Love Jane was eye-opening but left quite a bit of pain to be desired. Forgive the possibly sadomasochistic oxymoron, as pain rarely falls under the category of desirable. Nevertheless, the book lacks the naturally suggested heartache — even destruction — in the stories of women leaving behind devoted partners and choosing lovers of a completely different orientation, often in addition to leaving children and established families.
Despite the assumed tragedy in such stories, most of the anthology seemed to repeat the same one-sided anecdote of the sexually unsatisfied, arguably inexperienced women who married too young before finding new love — not necessarily just novel love — with a cast of interesting female characters. It would have been a more thorough picture of their experiences though, to include the men’s stories, the husbands’ stories. The dissolution of a family, especially one with young children or adult children, is not a thing to ignore. Yet I found it sorely untouched in this selection. Some of the pain of lost love, the inconvenience of dissolving a heavily financial and codependent arrangement like marriage, certainly dusts the pages. But not enough.
Certainly, the coming-of-age inherent in coming out as an older adult, rather than as an adolescent, rings with personal discovery, the beauty of being born again and finding identity. That’s really what this book was about. It does a fantastic job of painting striking, even erotic images of female bi- and homosexuality. But the deeper significance of finding that self-actualization amid family crisis was completely left out. It would be great to someday see a version of this anthology from male writers whose partners left their married families for a different sexuality.